(LEAD) Seoul shares close higher on institution, foreign buying

SEOUL, - South Korean stocks finished higher Thursday led by net purchases by institutions and foreign investors. The local currency lost ground against the U.S. dollar.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index added 15.48 points, or 0.61 percent, to close at 2,535.29.

Trading volume was heavy at 645.4 million shares worth 11.5 trillion won (US$8.9 billion), with gainers outpacing decliners 563 to 319.

Institutions scooped up a net 263.1 billion won worth of local shares, and foreign investors bought a net 122.3 billion won. Individuals dumped a net 369.3 billion won.

Experts said Thursday's Bank of Korea (BOK) decision to freeze the key interest rate and cut its growth outlook for next year had limited impact on the local financial market as those moves were widely expected.

"Many investors have anticipated the BOK's rate freeze and growth forecast downgrade in accordance with the latest moves by international organizations like the IMF and World Bank," said Lee Jae-sun, an analyst from Hyundai Motor Securities.

Market heavyweights finished in positive territory, with No. 1 Samsung Electronics adding 0.14 percent to 72,800 won and runner-up LG Energy Solution rising 1.68 percent to 454,500 won.

Major chipmaker SK hynix jumped 2.68 percent to 133,900 won, and top oil refinery SK Innovation gained 0.56 percent to 143,100 won.

Hotel Shilla, the hotel operating unit under Samsung Group, increased 1.55 percent to 65,600 won and pharmaceutical giant Celltrion went up 0.74 percent to 162,900 won.

K-pop label Hybe edged up 0.23 percent to 215,500 won despite the announcement that four members of BTS will join the military next month.

The local currency ended at 1,290 won against the greenback, down 0.4 won from the previous session's close.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, closed lower. The yield on three-year Treasurys gained 2.9 basis points to 3.583 percent, and the return on the benchmark five-year government bonds added 4.3 basis points to 3.621 percent.

Source: Yonhap News Agency